Article Abstract

A cost analysis of thyroid core needle biopsy vs. diagnostic surgery

Authors: Pierpaolo Trimboli, Naim Nasrollah, Stefano Amendola, Anna Crescenzi, Leo Guidobaldi, Carlo Chiesa, Riccardo Maglio, Giuseppe Nigri, Alfredo Pontecorvi, Francesco Romanelli, Laura Giacomelli, Stefano Valabrega


Background: Twenty percent of thyroid fine needle aspiration (FNA) is indeterminate. Because 3 in 4 of these are actually benign, a method of clarifying the pathology could help patients to avoid diagnostic thyroidectomy. Recently, core needle biopsy (CNB) has been proven to be highly reliable for this purpose. However, there are no reports of any potential cost benefit provided by CNB. Here we analyzed the impact on management costs of CNB compared with traditional diagnostic surgery in indeterminate FNA.
Methods: Over 24 months, 198 patients with thyroid indeterminate cytology underwent CNB at Ospedale Israelitico of Rome or diagnostic surgery at the Department of Surgery of Sapienza University of Rome. We tabulated costs of the medical instruments, operating theater, surgical team, patient recovery, and pathologic examination for each method.
Results: In CNB group, 42.4% of patients had benign lesions and avoided surgery, 20.8% was cancer, and the remaining 36.8% uncertain. The malignancy rate in CNB group was 26.4%, and mean cost of CNB per nodule was 1,032€. In diagnostic surgery group, 24.7% had cancer and 75.3% had benign lesions, and mean expense for each thyroidectomy was 6,364€. In an ideal cohort of 100 patients with indeterminate FNA, the cost of CNB is 33.8% lower than that of diagnostic surgery.
Conclusions: CNB can detect a large proportion of the benign thyroid nodules that are classified as indeterminate by FNA. These patients can avoid diagnostic thyroidectomy and hospitals can reduce their surgical costs by one-third.